7 Mood-Boosting Foods to Help Fight Seasonal Depression

mood-boosting foods

With winter just around the corner, seasonal mood changes are upon many of us. The days are shorter and we have fewer opportunities to get outside and soak up that much-needed Vitamin D. Plus, the holiday season brings its own set of stressors. Add to it all the scary uncertainty of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and we could all use a little pick-me-up.

A healthy lifestyle is an important aid to fighting off seasonal depression, however, it can be difficult to maintain as the weather gets colder and the holidays are upon us.

But it doesn’t have to be a challenge. There are many mood-boosting foods that contain essential vitamins and nutrients known for regulating and improving mood and reducing stress and anxiety.

Key Mood-Boosting Nutrients

There are several nutrients that can affect your mood in different ways. So whether you’re suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or just feeling blue about the cold weather, it can be beneficial to incorporate foods rich in these compounds into your diet:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B folates
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin C
  • Tryptophan
  • Amino acids

Here we’ve rounded up the best sources of these essential mood-boosting nutrients. These 7 foods have been shown to ward off depression. They’re easy to incorporate into your daily diet, and they’re all delicious! 

Fatty fish

Salmon and tuna are well-known for their health benefits. Rich in essential Omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fish can help reduce inflammation and blood pressure. But did you know they’ve also been shown to help fight depression and anxiety? In fact, studies have found that communities that generally consume more fatty fish have lower rates of depression.

In addition to the much-needed Omega-3s, fatty fish is also a great source of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D, both of which are used to treat depression. 

Foods to eat:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Mackerel


Leafy greens

Kale, spinach, chard, and their many cousins are growing in popularity because they pack a nutritional punch. But adding a regular dose of leafy greens to your diet can also help your mood.

For starters, they boost brain activity with the help of Vitamin B folates. People suffering from depression are proven to have low levels of these folates. And folate deficiency can inhibit your ability to metabolize dopamine, serotonin, and other mood-regulating neurotransmitters. 

Foods to eat:

  • Spinach
  • Artichokes
  • Okra
  • Turnip greens
  • Broccoli
  • Kale


Avocado toast can officially be deemed a form of self-care. Because the addicting green fruit is another mood-boosting food that can help ward off depression. Full of essential vitamins, avocados promote the metabolism of key neurotransmitters that improve your mood and reduce stress. And with tons of fiber, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, they’re a great, healthy addition to your daily diet.

Bell Peppers

These colorful peppers are loaded with Vitamin C, an antioxidant that’s been shown to help boost cognitive function and promote helpful neurotransmitters. Vitamin C can actually fight off depression and anxiety.

Fermented foods

Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that helps your mood, and studies have found that the majority of it is produced in your digestive tract, not your brain! And probiotics, which promote gut health, are being found to actually fight depression.

Scientists are seeing a correlation between gut bacteria and mood, so load up on kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and dairy-free yogurt for those powerful probiotics.

Foods to eat:

  • Yogurt
  • Buttermilk
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Pickled veggies
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha 

Nuts and seeds

A great source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, nuts and seeds are also mood-boosting foods, because they’re full of another key compound that can regulate your mood.

You’ve probably heard of tryptophan before – turkey is full of it. But nuts and seeds have it in abundance as well. Tryptophan is an amino acid that produces serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter.

In fact, a significant study over 10 years found that nut intake reduced the risk of depression by 23%.

Foods to eat:

  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Chia seeds


It shouldn’t be a surprise that chocolate contains several compounds that can boost your mood. The sugar certainly helps charge your brain, but chocolate also releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. N-acylethanolamine, for example, is a substance similar to cannabinoids that’s known to improve your mood.

Chocolate’s highly pleasurable taste, smell, and texture have been proven to have an impact on mood as well, with its high hedonic rating. For a healthier option, try more dark chocolate. 

Tips for Adding Mood-Boosting Food to Your Diet 

  • Meal prep: Save time during the week and whip up big batches of food you can freeze to use later. Planning out your meals for the week will make it easier to find ways to incorporate these mood-boosting foods into your daily diet.
  • Make it a family goal: Getting everyone at home involved in a healthy eating initiative is a win-win scenario. It’s easier for you to consistently eat these essential foods, and your family reaps the healthy benefits alongside you.
  • One-pot meals: It doesn’t need to be fancy to be healthy. Keeping things simple will make it easier to stay consistent and eat more of these mood-boosting foods. Slow cookers and instant pots will be your friend.

Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

Taking care of your physical health is just as important as staying in shape mentally and emotionally. And what you put into your body matters. Don’t let the stress of the season get the best of you. Start adding these mood-boosting foods to your diet now to stay on track throughout the coming months, so you can start the new year off feeling great. 

Come enjoy a dish full of healthy, mood-boosting ingredients at Rainbow Restaurant today.